Unraveling Sweaters for Yarn

April 29th, 2004 · 14 Comments · Uncategorized

one ball of unraveled yarn You may remember last month I was inspired by Marlo to embark upon the exciting adventure of unraveling thrift store sweaters for yarn. Today, Ro joined the Crochet Blogs ring. She has just unraveled her first sweater and, in her new crochet blog, posted this great link: How to Unravel a Sweater.

A few other links you might find helpful are:

Now you’re armed with all the info you need to unravel sweaters yourself. Have fun! Oh, and for inspiration, check out these folks who are unraveling sweaters and selling the yarn on eBay:

Here are pics of my first unraveling experience. I feel like I’ve unlocked a secret stash of yarn ripe for the picking. Lucious, unattainable, unaffordable yarns can now be mine! I am giddy with glee!

This is a Gap girls XXL sweater (97% acrylic, 3% other fibers), which cost me $2.59 at Goodwill. The yarn turned out to be three strands. One strand was thick and thin yarn in red, pink, purple, and pale green. And the other two were thin twists of white and glittery purple string. The sweater was machine washable and dryable, so I did both before starting.

one ball of unraveled yarn

Unraveling the first sleeve. (This is not a tutorial because, remember, everything you need to know is over at How to Unravel a Sweater.)

one ball of unraveled yarn

First sleeve unraveled and yarn tied into a hank.

one ball of unraveled yarn

Washing the hank to help get rid of the curliness. For this, I followed the instructions from Reusing Yarn.

one ball of unraveled yarn

Hanging the damp hank with a weight on the bottom to get out the curliness. (The weight is a metal stand you use to roast a chicken on the outdoor grill. I know, I know, but it was the first thing I found!) In hindsight, it wasn’t necessary to wash the hank, because this type of yarn wasn’t affected much by the curliness.

one ball of unraveled yarn
My first ball of yarn from the sweater, washed, dried, and wound into a center-pull ball. To wind the yarn, I followed the instructions at Reusing Yarn. Later on, I found similar, more detailed instructions at Yarn Balls.

one ball of unraveled yarn
All of the balls of yarn from the sweater, with a wide-mouth pint canning jar thrown in for scale. (Do I live in the South?) After the first ball, I stopped the washing and weighted drying of the hanks. This thick and thin yarn straightened out well enough on its own after being wound into balls.

Update, May 4, 2004: Here’s my first FO with this yarn, a sweet little jar. Pattern: Prayer Pot by Marlo.
Prayer Pot

14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tiffany // May 1, 2004 at 5:53 am

    Aaaak! Your yarn looks fabulous! What a find and how exciting. I am off in search of good deals tomorrow ~ being inspired by you!!! Think of the posibilities… right now I see an awesome shawl.

  • 2 empress // May 3, 2004 at 6:06 am

    Cool. I’ll try that someday!

  • 3 Ro- // Apr 30, 2004 at 12:39 pm

    Hey Donna! Thanks for my very first blog link. I sat here and followed all the additional link you posted and am so glad you did. That sweater sleeve is so full of curls now I know how to straighten it out a bit. Thank goddess I have the day off today as soon as I get the kiddies out the door for school I am off to hank my hanks!..lol almost sounds indecent hehehe then I am going to dig out a toilet paper tube from the bathroom trash can and give this yarn the nice ball shape it deserves.

  • 4 maryse // Apr 29, 2004 at 10:41 pm

    hey thanks for showing us that unraveling sweaters is actually worthwhile! by the way — did you check out the neau knits couple? how cute are they??

  • 5 Jessi // Apr 13, 2005 at 11:04 pm

    I unraveled my first sweater last night (pics up soon) and decided to wind the yarn directly from the sweater to a ball. After thinking about it, and then knitting a sample, I may not wash or stretch it. The kinks seemed to straighten as I wound the the ball. Does anyone else wash the sweater, and then skip washing the yarn before using it?

  • 6 Tiffany // May 1, 2004 at 5:54 am

    PS… thanks for the lovely links!

  • 7 Chie // Apr 30, 2004 at 1:33 am

    Thank you for the great infos! :) I think I am inspired. Unraveling sweaters for rare yarn… What an idea!

  • 8 Melissa // Apr 29, 2004 at 10:09 pm

    Thanks for sharing all the tutorials and your unraveling experience! Can’t wait to give this a try. Now I have a good reason to head to Goodwill. Not sure if that’s good thing or a bad thing. ;)

    Love the colors in your sweater.

  • 9 Jennifer // Jan 7, 2005 at 6:10 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing the info. I have been unraveling yarn for a while now.It is such a frugal way to get yarn this way. I thought I was the only one who did this.

  • 10 sue // Apr 30, 2004 at 2:12 am

    thats interesting.what kind of sweaters can you rip?Any kind or does it have to be homemade>I wouldn’t mind trying this.btw..I would love to take a sheepie home to my new pad if sheepie doesn’t mind going to a new home?

  • 11 Vera // Apr 30, 2004 at 4:23 am

    This is very interesting. I learn so much from reading blogs.

  • 12 Julie // Apr 30, 2004 at 1:41 am

    Very pretty! What are you going to make with it?

  • 13 Chelle // Apr 30, 2004 at 7:05 pm

    Wow! I am impressed and inspired! There must be a trip to a local thrift shop this weekend, see if I can find any sweaters to unravel! Thanks for all the great links and pictures of your experience!

  • 14 Taerie // Jun 1, 2008 at 8:53 am

    I don’t know if anyone else could find the unraveling instructions but I couldn’t.

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